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Daniel [Import]

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Timothy Hutton, Mandy Patinkin, Lindsay Crouse, Edward Asner, Ellen Barkin
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Writers: E.L. Doctorow
  • Producers: Sidney Lumet, Burtt Harris, E.L. Doctorow
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • Release Date: July 1 2008
  • Run Time: 130 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B0019UGYAK
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Format: VHS Tape
Sidney Lumet's film is based on the novel The Book of Daniel by E L Doctorow, an obvious use of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case of the 1950's. The Rosenberg's were convicted of conspiring to give atomic bomb information to the Soviets, and executed in 1953. Whilst it is believed that the Rosenberg's were justly convicted, what made the case contentious was the severity of their punishment. Doctorow renamed the Rosenberg's the Isaacsons, and uses the Rosenberg myth to explore the dark side of infamy. The film is told from the Isaacson children's point of view, Amanda Plummer who even as a child when her parents were killed, shows indications of her later mental breakdown, and Timothy Hutton who appears to be the stronger of the two. Both have internalised their grief, with Plummer's idealism shown to be as unhealthy as that of her parents, and Hutton's fetish about different methods of execution. We see the children's resentment of their parents because the imprisonment and eventual deaths of the parents cost the children their protection. It's not important to the children whether their parents are innocent. They believe the political activism the parents expressed is self-destructive. Our view of the Isaacson's activism as a demonstration of passion is divided between heroic and foolish, with Mandy Pantikin's Paul Isaacson being the best example, when he collapses at the sight of the electric chair. Is he a foolish coward or would anyone faint in fear at the time of death? (though Mrs Isaacson doesn't). Doctorow (who adapted his own book) casts doubt on the guilt of the Isaacson's to provide for the children's anguish..Read more ›
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Format: VHS Tape
I FIND THIS MOVIE VERY INTERESTING BECAUSE ITS SIMILAR TO THE CASE OF JULIUS AND ETHEL ROSENBERG WHO WERE TRIED AND EXECUTED FOR ESPIONAGE IN THE 1950'S,ITS IDENTICAL TO THEIR CASE.
I FIND THAT THE ACTORS PLAYED THEIR ROLES WELL,AND RECOMMEND THIS MOVIE FOR VIEWING VERY HIGHLY.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa836b27c) out of 5 stars 20 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa83f3a94) out of 5 stars Historical drama with magnificent actors Aug. 1 2008
By K. Silber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Timothy Hutton is luminous in this film, as the fictional son of the Rosenbergs. He should have own an award for this portrayal. All the actors, so many well known now, and including the children portraying the young Daniel, are wonderful. There are layers of story unfolding, and the layers are punctuated by the singing of Paul Robeson at intervals, giving a depth and weight to the already intense story. A few viewers may not like the parts where Daniel talks about the many forms of execution, but this is a small part of the film. I recommend this film to anyone who lived through the 60s, and interested in the many films directed by Sidney Lumet. Superb.
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ec54c8) out of 5 stars history as dramatic fiction March 6 2001
By Peter Shelley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Sidney Lumet's film is based on the novel The Book of Daniel by E L Doctorow, an obvious use of the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg case of the 1950's. The Rosenberg's were convicted of conspiring to give atomic bomb information to the Soviets, and executed in 1953. Whilst it is believed that the Rosenberg's were justly convicted, what made the case contentious was the severity of their punishment. Doctorow renamed the Rosenberg's the Isaacsons, and uses the Rosenberg myth to explore the dark side of infamy. The film is told from the Isaacson children's point of view, Amanda Plummer who even as a child when her parents were killed, shows indications of her later mental breakdown, and Timothy Hutton who appears to be the stronger of the two. Both have internalised their grief, with Plummer's idealism shown to be as unhealthy as that of her parents, and Hutton's fetish about different methods of execution. We see the children's resentment of their parents because the imprisonment and eventual deaths of the parents cost the children their protection. It's not important to the children whether their parents are innocent. They believe the political activism the parents expressed is self-destructive. Our view of the Isaacson's activism as a demonstration of passion is divided between heroic and foolish, with Mandy Pantikin's Paul Isaacson being the best example, when he collapses at the sight of the electric chair. Is he a foolish coward or would anyone faint in fear at the time of death? (though Mrs Isaacson doesn't). Doctorow (who adapted his own book) casts doubt on the guilt of the Isaacson's to provide for the children's anguish..Hutton interviews survivors of the trial and settles on the theory that his parents were the dupe of the informant, who fingered them in order to deflect attention from the real culprits. Whilst this theory cannot be substantiated, it's more palatable for the Isaacsons than it could be for the Rosenbergs, who the Communist Party wanted us to believe were also framed. Of course this theory requires that there existed a conspiracy, and the film points out that the Soviet's advances in nuclear weapons can be explained by their independent efforts. After all, wasn't it feared that the Nazi's would beat the Americans to the bomb if their invasion of Russia was a success? The alternate theory that there were no culprits and the Isaacsons were merely scapegoats for Cold War paranoia would probably lead both children to suicide. Lumet creates two time frames, distinguished by cinematography Andrejz Bartkowiak's orange tint for the past and blue tint for the Vietnam era that is the present where the children are now adults, and intercuts in memory and with the progression of Hutton's quest. This intercutting works the best with Lumet's set pieces, an anti-Communist ambush after a Paul Robeson concert, and the two executions presented mercifully in long shot, though a final comparative funeral seems false since it's hard to imagine that the Isaacsons would have been allowed a public funeral. It feels like it exists so Lumet could make the parallel. There is a memorable image of the children being passed over the heads of a crowd during a rally, but the extended stock footage that Lumet opens and closes the film with is less successful. I also tend to agree with Pauline Kael's assessment of the Robeson songs on the soundtrack, in her review in her collection State of the Art. She says its a secret rarely let out: Robeson was a monotonous singer and his songs all sound the same (except for one up-tempo number towards the end). When men appear with baseball bats to attack the Isaacsons and other Communist Party members who have heard Robeson sing live, you wish they would use their bats on Robeson's arranger instead. Lumet has the reputation for encouraging his actors to yell, a point taken to near parody by the hysteria of Julie Bovasso as Patinkin's sister who is lumbered with the children when both parents are arrested, and Patinkin is probably the worst offender. However Lindsay Crouse as Mrs Isaacson is a touching mother and I also liked the polite hostility of Carmen Matthews as the widow of the Isaacson's lawyer. Hutton is all hair and beard but Amanda Plummer has a Judy Garland-ish vulnerability, with a scene where he tries to rouse her out of her madness and she returns to the solace of her foetal position in a dance-like move.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa89f6504) out of 5 stars One of Sidney Lumet's best films April 27 2015
By jblyn - Published on Amazon.com
One of the most interesting things about both this movie and its source material, which is THE BOOK OF DANIEL by novelist E.L. Doctorow, is that it isn't about whether or not Paul and Rochelle Isaacson (the fictional stand-ins for Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) are guilty or innocent of passing government secrets to the Soviet Union and are therefore deserving (or not) of being executed. It's about the psychological impact upon their children Daniel and Susan Isaacson of all that happened to their parents and, indeed, of all that their parents were as people. It's a manifold character study that asks us to go beyond simplistic conclusions such as "those poor kids" and acknowledge that all parents leave their mark upon their children in one way or another. It also shows us that each child at some point finds their own way of coping.....or not....with their parents' legacy. Without giving too much away, neither child is undamaged, but one child does indeed slowly comes to terms with what was handed to them, for better or for worse.

The acting by all of the cast is superb. I would maintain that this movie showcases Timothy Hutton's finest performance ever as Daniel, and Amanda Plummer, Mandy Patinkin and Lindsay Crouse as Daniel's sister, father and mother are equally strong. Ed Asner gives a powerful turn as the Isaacson's defense lawyer Ascher, an intelligent but harried man who knows his case is doomed from the beginning. The soundtrack consists of Paul Robeson's many performances of spirituals, appropriate for the time and the context, and everything feels inexorable to the very end, and yet, somehow, there is light at that end.

Shed any preconceptions you might have that this will convince you of the innocence or guilt of the Rosenbergs in actual history...that's not this movie's agenda. It's about the children and those who love them.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xb45f1204) out of 5 stars Great story, great director, great actors June 18 2014
By michael myers - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This strikes me as a quiet, forgotten movie from the early '80s, but it's a great story directed by a Sidney Lumet, whose movies have never disappointed me going all the back to 12 Angry Men in the late 1950s. Great performances by the cast, including Mandy Pantinkin, Lindsay Crouse, and Timothy Hutton, who strikes me as among the most underrated actors of his generation. Like other Lumet films, this movie takes on some weighty and important issues, by tweaking and revising the real story of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the American Communists who were convicted and executed, on charges of espionage for the Soviet Union, in the 1950s. This movie focuses on the damaged children of an executed Communist couple, picking up the story about a dozen years later, at the height of the antiwar movement in the late 1960s. The daughter suffers severe mental illness, while the son [Hutton] embarks on a mission to explore and come to terms with his parents' story and its impact on him and his sister. The film intertwines Daniel's current mission with flashback scenes that reveal his parents' story, as well as their experience of it as children. Great film, especially for those of us who love history, the 1950s, the 1960s, as well as the early 1980s.
HASH(0xa7ec96c0) out of 5 stars HOW TO MAKE POLITICS BORING Sept. 1 2015
By Mark Turner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
A copy of this title was provided for review purposes.

I am a huge fan of Sidney Lumet. While some have flocked to his more notable films I’ve always been one that enjoyed the smaller films he made that didn’t seem to draw more attention, like PRINCE OF THE CITY. So when I heard that this film was coming out I was anxious to watch it again. I kept thinking I had seen it once long ago but after watching it I don’t think so. If I had I’m not sure I would have looked forward to it as much.

The movie is based on the novel by E.L. Doctorow who wrote the screenplay as well. The book as well as the movie are a thinly based look at the lives of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, names long forgotten by many but not all. The couple was accused of selling secrets to the Russians at the height of the cold war and were executed for espionage, the first to be Americans to be executed for this reason since WWII.

This story begins in the late 60s with a family dinner in which Daniel Isaacson (Timothy Hutton) broods about life and all there is while his sister Susan (Amanda Plummer) goes on about the current state of affairs in the world. As the pair are about to be awarded a large sum of money for what happened to their parents, Susan wants to use it to open a center in their name that will take on numerous social injustice issues. She has no clue what, she has no idea exactly what they will do or how they will continue to fund it, like many radicals of the time they just want change. When Daniel confronts her becoming more and more violent in his outburst she collapses wanting justice for her parents.

The movie moves back and forth through time from start to finish. We move back to see their parents Paul and Rochelle (Mandy Patinkin and Lindsay Crouse) as they meet in college, both enthralled by the Communists movement and how it pertains to the union workers they support. When Paul returns from the war they get involved with the party, meeting with people and attending summer camps where speakers come to talk to them and inspire them. As they grow we get to see the two young children as well, growing up in this atmosphere.

Moving forward again we find that Susan has attempted suicide. Daniel tries to comfort her in the hospital and finds her mental torment combined with the questions he has of his own inspire him to follow through with what she wanted, justice for their parents. Using this as the basis for his graduate thesis, he begins to look deeper into what happened, searching for clues as to why his parents of all the other people involved with the Communists back then were singled out and if they did indeed do what they were accused of.

As the story unwinds moving back and forth from past to present, the clues are offered. Theories are discussed. Anger is unleashed. Does Daniel discover what it is he is looking for? Is justice finally served? Sorry, no major spoiler here, watch and find out.

Story wise this film will either rankle you or make you cheer. If you lean to the left you’ll find this a great movie, to the right you’ll find the many flaws it involves, most of which were not discovered until 2008 when papers were released thanks to the freedom of information act. Those papers showed the Julius Rosenberg did indeed pass information along to the Russians though if his wife was involved remains a mystery. And yet people still hold them up as victims of an oppressive government ignoring this discovery. The movie would rather paint them as heroes. The concept of having to decide whether to sell out your fellow party members or to live and take care of your family shows that the cause was more important to these characters.

The movie is well made and the cinematography is spectacular. The transfer done by Olive Films on this title is amazing and looks as clean as anything I’ve witnessed transferred to blu-ray format. The directing shows that Lumet was a master at what he did but at the same time could allow his judgement to be clouded when it came to subject matter.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing to witness here is the overzealous acting on display from the leads. I’m not sure who to blame for that though, Lumet or the actors themselves. One can’t help but know their personal political feelings in real life and those are injected strenuously into their performances. Rather than help it makes them feel more like caricatures than real people which is to the detriment of the performances. Subtlety would have been a better path to take rather than trying to present the characters as heroic martyrs.

The problem with movies that take on political issues is that they tend to get far too caught up in the beliefs of the film makers themselves. It doesn’t matter if they lean left or right, the occasions to find a movie of this type that doesn’t push too hard one way or the other is rare. Instead the film makers beat you over the head so hard that the end result is being turned off from what they are trying to tell you. I felt this way after watching DANIEL. It glorifies the protest movement composed more of symbolism than actual accomplishment. Sorry but we get enough of that these days and when it’s slammed into your head as a movie it just isn’t entertaining.



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